Extinction Rebellion Rapidly Gains Followers
Yesterday, more than 1000 protesters blocked roads around Parliament Square, calling on the government to take action on the climate emergency.
The newly formed Extinction Rebellion group issued a declaration of rebellion in London’s Parliament Square on Wednesday 31st October. Their aim is to draw attention to the unfolding climate emergency and demand that the government takes action.
Families, pensioners and teenagers gathered in Parliament Square and sat down in the road, blocking traffic at one of London’s busiest intersections for more than two hours. Speakers from the Green Party, journalists and citizens of different faiths spoke out about the unravelling crisis at hand.
Green Party MEP, Molly Scott Cato, told the crowd:
“We must rise up. When the law tells you to support something that your deep inner voice is fundamentally against, you should take non-violent direct action.” (The Guardian)
The protest followed a stark warning from scientists that humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970. Experts warn that this level of extinction threatens the future of human civilisation. The protest was also inspired by the IPCC report on global warning, released in early October, that warns there are only twelve years left to prevent climate catastrophe.
Extinction Rebellion had expected a turnout of a few hundred people to their display of civil disobedience, but instead over 1000 people came together and voted to block the road outside parliament. Some linked arms or hands, some sat and 28-year-old Felix chained himself to a fellow protester. He felt the disruption was justified, saying:
“The disruption we are causing today is nothing to the destruction that our governments are unleashing by not taking serious steps to stop the ecological crisis. I have never been to prison before but I feel I have to try and do something.”
Police made fifteen arrests of protesters on suspicion of obstructing the highway. Extinction Rebellion said they had expected arrests and would do what they could to support those who had been arrested.
The group is planning a campaign of mass civil disobedience, which will culminate with a sit-in protest in Parliament Square on 17th November. There will also be a series of planned occupations of London bridges.
The movement has been backed by almost 100 senior academics from across the UK, including Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury.
Gail Bradbrook, one of the organisers of the protest said:
“People are no longer prepared to sit back and watch our politicians and corporations drive us off the cliff of ecological destruction. This is an emergency situation and it needs an emergency response.”